By Dn. Anish Skariya
January 1st or New Years, marks a day of new beginnings. It is filled with resolutions or commitments that one wants to accomplish for the upcoming year; such as starting a new exercise regimen, drinking less soda or in my case less coffee, and my favorite, begin reading the Bible from cover to cover. But one common theme that is seen in these resolutions is the length. By the middle of January most people would have already abandoned their resolutions. I constantly ask myself, Why is this? I believe it is a lack of motivation and the fact that we are influenced by our culture and society and we expect instant results. Thus when we don’t see these results we become demotivated and fall back to our old ways.
Aside from our physical resolutions and commitments, this day in the life of a Christian, is an important day, for it is a day in which we are renewed spiritually and emotionally in our walk with our Lord. This day is a day to reflect, repent, and renew our walk with God, for St. Paul says in his second epistle to Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here” (2 Cor. 5:17). Thus New Years is a time for not only physical renewal but spiritual renewal.
This renewal is what the Orthodox way of life is all about. Our spiritual growth does not come without effort and discipline. This is how the apostle Peter puts it: Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control, and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love (2 Peter1:5-7).
Being an Orthodox Christian is about a way of life, not only our physical life, but our spiritual life. We must seek to live in a way that we become the icon of Christ to our surroundings. This means that we must develop a presence that influences others by our way of living and acting.
If you seek spiritual enrichment in the coming year, then don’t let yourself fall into a dull slumber of inattention to what really matters, for Mathew says in his Gospel, “Keep watching [be alert and attentive] and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41). Engage yourself in your spiritual development and allow the Holy Spirit to transform you from the inside out. Don’t seek instant results from God, as if He were an ATM. Seek and thirst after Him. Don’t worry about how distant He may seem. Commit yourself to live the life He has provided for you through His Church. The Church is given to us for our benefit. It outlines for us how we can become self-disciplined and gain His help to transform our lived so that we truly live in Him and He in us.
To close, this January 1st, instead of only focusing on your physical New Year resolutions, commit yourself to spiritual resolutions. Resolutions that will help us to better ourselves as brothers, as sisters, and most importantly as Icons of Christ. Let this New Year be a year of spiritual reflecting, repenting, and renewal. May God enlighten you and bring you many Blessings in the Coming New Year.